Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Looks different?

Yeah, just changed the template on my blog to this one. On my browser at least it leads to a more compact format and you get more of my ravings in a more compact page than previously. Hopefully that's a good thing?!

Continuous Cruising

Postscript - 30 Sept 09 - In the last 48 hours Narrowboatworld has taken down the full thread. Any of you who got round to reading the original will have seen that as ever when one tries to have a meaningfully discussion on this issue, someone has to spoil it by insisting that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Funny how often this happens when this subject comes up!? (What little is now left is here.)

Anyway for better or worse, part of my contribution is still preserved below!

Someone is actually reading my blog!

Thanks to Paul Morgan at BW/Waterscape for his comments on the implementation of the revised tenders/auctions website. (My original item with Paul's feedback is here).

I often bang on about how unresponsive some parts of BW are to people's gripes and complaints so it's always encouraging to identify and credit those staff who do respond promptly and effectively to the punters (and don't think I don't know that there are a lot of you out there who work hard to make sure you fall into this category).

Just cos I think many of your senior managers and leaders are incompetent, don't take that to mean I take the same view about most of the 'the workers'.

If any one has problems or issues with the site you know now, thanks to Paul's helpful response, where to seek help. Good stuff. Thanks again Paul for your positivity.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Lammas Project wins planning permission

A major step forward for the sustainability movement was achieved at the end of last month when the Lammas Project won planning permission for their project.


August 2009

First Eco-Village in UK gets planning permission

Lammas, the group behind the innovative eco-village, first applied for planning permission in June 2007. After being refused twice by Pembrokeshire County Council the group appealed to the Welsh Assembly Planning Inspectorate and following a well attended public hearing have finally won permission.

The project consists of nine eco-smallholdings, a community hub building and a seasonal campsite on land near the village of Glandwr in North Pembrokeshire. Lammas founding member Paul Wimbush explains: “We want to build an ecovillage in which people can live lightly on the earth in modern eco-houses. The project is unusual in that on the one hand it takes a green approach to all aspects of living and on the other hand is structured very much like a conventional village.”

“The project has been designed so that the nine smallholdings, while being essentially autonomous, will also fit into an overall permaculture design plan for the whole site. Permaculture is a land-management approach that meets people’s needs through replicating natural ecosystems. It is diverse and human-scale by its very nature as opposed to agriculture which tends towards big machines and monocultures. This way we can turn what is considered as poor land into something incredibly productive.”

The project has met a mixed reaction from local people despite promising a range of benefits including new footpaths, a seasonal shop, fresh local produce and a minibus service.

Cassandra Lishman, a local businesswoman and a prospective resident of the eco-village said today: “At last we can begin building our homes. We are delighted that the Welsh Assembly Government is bold enough to put their policies into practice.”

Because of the strict regulations imposed by the planners, the buildings erected on the site must have a very low visual impact and blend into the landscape and cannot be made out of conventional materials such as concrete blocks and cement. Instead, largely natural materials from the locality must be used, including earth, turf, timber and straw, and the buildings have been designed using a combination of the latest in green technologies combined with traditional building skills. The houses will incorporate many sustainable technologies such as passive solar heating, rainwater harvesting and electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind, water and solar, and the whole site will not be allowed to use any mains services.

Cassandra Lishman and the other prospective residents know that life in the eco-village is going to be hard work. The planners require that 75 per cent of all household needs must be met directly by land-based means. Each smallholding has had to be meticulously planned to meet this requirement with a broad spectrum of enterprises ranging from strawberry production to basketry, from smoked hams to furniture making, from woollen crafts to medicinal tinctures.

However tonight the Lammas residents will be celebrating what could well be considered as a significant planning precedent and a sign of changing times.

Further details about Lammas and the eco-village can be found at including pictures and links to some short films on the project.

Continuous Cruising

Seems that I and other contributors managed to re-ignite some debate about Continuous Cruisers and Council Tax on Narrowboatworld's Forum recently! This started from some confusion about NABO's view on the subject of whether Continuous Cruisers should pay more. You can see how the debate went in this case by reading the forum but I thought I'd post the key arguments I made on NABO's behalf here too.

For the avoidance of doubt it is not NABO policy that Continuous Cruisers should pay a higher BW licence fee than those with long term moorings.
We remain committed defenders of the position that your standard BW craft licence should be a universal licence, allowing the boater to travel around the network (or the river they are based on in the case of River Registration) as much or as little as they wish.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Moorings Tenders are now Auctions

British Waterways Moorings tenders are no more!

Unfortunately they have not been scrapped but have been replaced by Moorings Auctions!

However in best BW fashion it seems the revised website has not been tested properly before being launched. I can find no instructions as to how to bid for auction lots posted on the site. The link to the information sheet on how to bid was not working this morning (Sunday 27 Sep 09) despite the fact there are twenty berths advertised as available for bids.

Another famous administrative cock up at BW? Doubtless the fact that the auction site that doesn't seem to contain the bidding instructions will simply be dismissed by BW as "teething troubles"?!

I registered as an interested bidder under the old system but have received no communications from BW about the changes to the system! Loathsome as it is to me, it is hardly going to work if those who have registered an interest in bidding for vacancies aren't provided with instructions.

This is one I will keep watching I think!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Grow your own as a national food policy

The BBC series I referred to previously got me thinking. One part of the programme that was new to me was the case of how Cuba responded to major disruption in its food and energy markets following the fall of the Soviet Bloc.

Cuba for many years relied on its political relationship with the Soviet block for cheap food and fuel imports. That arrangement collapsed when the Soviet communist system went down.

The programme touched on how in response consumption in Cuba has had to fall and how local food production had to rise. As a result Cuba has put huge amounts of urban open space over to urban farms which grow and distribute local produce in the communities where it is produced. This got be onto doing some searches for more background on these events.

As part of their response to this Cuba has been forced to develop and implement low impact food growing techniques. It has to be low impact because Cuba does not have the money to industrialise its food production. One outcome seems to be a huge return to the land and a lots of investigation and application of approaches to production which many of us in this part of the world who have looked into these things would recognise as permaculture and organic techniques.

There is lots more stuff on the story on the web if you search Cuba plus the key word in the links above. I've just liked to the three articles I found most authentic.

On Youtube there is also a series of films 'Cuba and Peak Oil' which I have found interesting. The title maybe hides the fact that a great deal of this film focuses on food production issues arising out of the local peak oil scenario that Cuba went through. As of today the film is available from this page.